Ecology and Conservation Biology


UCAS Code: C180
Typical offer:
Three years

BSc + Placement Year

UCAS Code: C185
Typical offer: AAB
Length: Four years


UCAS Code: C189
Typical offer: AAA
Four years

MBiolSci + Placement Year

UCAS Code: C184
Typical offer: AAA
Length: Five years

Don't meet our entry requirements?
International students: Pathway programme
UK students: Biosciences with Foundation Year

This video was made by students on our second year module, Talking The Talk: Getting Science on Film

Added value options – with reduced fees:

How to apply and other entry requirements

Other Animal and Plant Sciences degrees:

About the course

Ecology and Conservation Biology is about the ecosystems across the planet that are under threat, and what we can do to save them. You’ll learn more about the interactions between humans, animals, plants and the Earth’s atmosphere, covering topics such as biodiversity, climate change and environmental management.

You'll take compulsory modules designed to give you specialist ecology and conservation knowledge and the essential skills that every professional scientist needs, plus a range of optional modules. You can study:

  • how biodiversity affects the way ecosystems work
  • how interactions between species affect their populations
  • whether we can predict species' responses to climate change
  • how to manage populations sustainably and conserve biodiversity

You'll spend the first week of your first term on a field trip in Sheffield, working on projects throughout the city's green spaces and out to the edge of the Peak District. You'll continue to develop your scientific research skills with practical sessions in our specialist teaching laboratories throughout your first and second year. We also run regular field trips to zoos, aquariums and nature reserves, and in our second year module, Talking the Talk: Getting Science on Film, students get to make their own wildlife documentaries.


Between second and third year, you'll go on a field course, either overseas or here in the UK. We give you a choice of fascinating habitats to explore, from dramatic landscapes in remote corners of the globe, to complex ecosystems operating right under our noses.

Field courses

In third year, you'll tie your scientific skills together with an in-depth research project and dissertation. If you do one of our four-year research-intensive MBiolSci degrees, you'll get to do an even bigger project in fourth year.

Research projects

Course structure

Below are some examples of topics covered in this degree from the current academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course.

First year

Compulsory subjects:

  • Biodiversity
  • Ecological Identification Skills
  • Ecosystems, Climate and Environmental Change
  • Evolution
  • Genes in Populations
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Skills for Biologists 1

Optional subjects:

  • Animal Physiology, Reproduction and Development
  • Animal and Plant Physiology
  • Behaviour of Humans and Other Animals
  • Plant Physiology, Reproduction and Development
  • Population and Community Ecology 1
  • Reproduction, Development and Growth

Second year

Compulsory subjects:

  • Animal and Plant Science Tutorials
  • Population and Community Ecology 2
  • Careers for Biologists
  • Conservation Principles
  • Data Analysis
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Plant Habitat and Distribution
  • Tropical Forest Ecology and Conservation

Optional subjects:

  • Biotechnology and Food Security
  • Ecosystems in a Changing Global Environment
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genomics in Wildlife Forensics
  • Insect Biology
  • Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
  • Plant, Cell and Environment
  • Symbiosis

Third year

Research project: You'll choose a topic and be allocated a supervisor who will help you decide what you're going to investigate, design your experiments, write up your findings and draw your conclusions.

Students also write a dissertation or take part in the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme:

  • Dissertation – Write up a critical review on a topic of your choosing, under the supervision of an academic who is an expert on the subject
  • Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme – Gain experience of teaching biology in local schools

Compulsory subjects:

  • Conservation Issues and Management

Optional subjects:

  • Conflict and Cooperation
  • Biology and Ethics
  • Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Evolutionary Ecology
  • Future Plants: From Laboratory to Field
  • Global Change
  • Human Evolutionary Genetics
  • Life in Extreme Environments
  • Phylogenetic Approaches to Evolution
  • Sustainable Agro-Ecosystems
  • The Ecology of Landscapes
  • Topics in Evolutionary Genetics
  • Trends in Biology

Fourth year

If you do one of our MBiolSci courses, you'll do a more advanced research project in your fourth year. You'll be based in one of our research laboratories, working alongside professional scientists and with access to state-of-the-art equipment. You'll get extra training for a career in research, including data analysis, applying for grants and publishing your findings. Some students' research has appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals before they've graduated.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Ecology and Conservation Biology with Placement Year

Our BSc and MBiolSci Ecology and Conservation Biology with Placement Year degrees allow you to do a year long, paid work placement between your second and third year. You'll pay reduced fees for the year you’re on placement and you'll still have access to your tutor and the support you need from the university. Most students earn salaries during their placements too.

Placements aren't guaranteed – it’s your responsibility to secure one but we’ll do everything we can to help. We have a dedicated tutor in the department to provide advice and the university’s Careers Service runs workshops on CV and application writing, job hunting and preparing for interviews. In your first and second year at Sheffield you’ll also have opportunities to meet with a range of employers, chat to recent Ecology and Conservation Biology graduates about how they're applying their degrees to the workplace, and hear from current placement students about their experiences.

Our students have done their placements at organisations that include:

  • Atkins Environmental Consulting
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Cadbury (Mondelēz International)
  • Food and Environment Research Agency
  • Kew Gardens
  • Newquay Zoo
  • Transport for London
  • West Yorkshire Police (Forensics)
  • Centre for Integrated Research, Conservation and Learning (Flamingo Land and the University of York)
  • EMEC Ecology

Cropped version of Anna Williams' photo

During my year I gained invaluable experience not only in surveying for protected species such as bats, great crested newts, badgers and many others, but also transferable business skills such as compiling quotes, dealing with clients, and learning the regulations and laws with regards to UK protected species.

Anna Williams, BSc Ecology and conservation biology with placement year who worked at emec ecology. READ MORE